Seeing Red: Sea Eagles teammates detail worst captain’s run in history

Over on the northern beaches, they still call it the worst captain’s run performance — ever.

Brad Parker, the most popular redhead to pull on a Manly jersey since the great Paul Vautin, celebrates 100 NRL games against Parramatta on Thursday night.

But Parker and his teammates can still remember his dreadful efforts 24 hours before his debut against the New Zealand Warriors in Perth.

So embarrassed by Parker’s final training session was then-coach Trent Barrett, he later told him he was lucky he was on the other side of the country and unable to call on other replacements.

Parker is not the big-money star or fan favourite, but the local junior and his teammates cannot wipe the smiles off their faces when talking about him ahead of his milestone match.

As for that captain’s run in 2016, Parker told the Herald: “It was probably one of the most famous captain’s runs of all time. I got called up to go to Perth, and I was up against Manu Vatuvei.

Brad Parker celebrates with Tolutau Koula during the Sea Eagles’ first-up win over Canterbury earlier this month.Credit:Getty

“I had only trained with the first-grade squad once or twice. I knew all of them, but they didn’t know me. I ended up dropping about eight balls. I couldn’t catch a thing.

“At one stage, Jamie Lyon threw a ball directly into my mitts, and I still dropped it. Jamie turned around and said to the boys, ‘it’s OK, that’s on me’, and was just trying to look after me.

“Even after the training session, Jamie came up to me and said, ‘what would you rate that session out of 10?’, and I said, ‘probably a two’, and Jamie said, ‘where the f–k did you get a two?’.

“I was absolutely rattled. Tommy [Trbojevic] was my roommate and I was staring at him at 3am because I was just so terrified. I ended up playing alright, Vatuvei got into me, but we won.

‘Much like every other redhead’s life, he’s had to scrap and fight for everything he’s ever got.’

“‘Baz’ [Barrett] was coach, we had a couple of beers at the end of the game, and he said, ‘I tell you what Parks, lucky we’re in Perth because I would have chased any other bloke to come in and replace you if we were still at home’. Now I’m playing my 100th game.”

Cherry-Evans said Parker was one of the funniest people he had met, and his humour kept spirits high in the change room. He described that captain’s run as “comical”. The only thing more humorous was seeing Parker hobble around most weeks at training.

“I used to say to “Foz” [Kieran Foran], ‘I’ll play until I’m 40 if I keep looking at Brad’,” Cherry-Evans said. “But he somehow warms up, warms into a session, then gives his all every time. Much like every other redhead’s life, he’s had to scrap and fight for everything he’s ever got.”

Parker and Cherry-Evans celebrate a try during the 2019 finals series.Credit:Getty Images

Trbojevic is convinced the red hair may have got the sympathy vote from Geoff Toovey who awarded Parker a man-of-the-match gong after a local touch footy game between Turbo’s Mona Vale and Parker’s Collaroy about a decade ago.

“I had an absolute blinder, but Geoff decided to give it to Brad Parker in a side that was flogged 11-2; we still laugh about that,” Trbojevic said.

Parker is off contract at the end of the year. He loves Manly. For every million-dollar contract that rightfully goes to players like Cherry-Evans and Trbojevic, every club needs their bargain buys who get on with the job without fuss.

“I love this club, and while money is a great thing to play for, there’s no greater feeling than going out with the lads and getting the win,” Parker said.

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